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Aurora Energy Wins National Awards for Dunedin Harbour Crossing Upgrade Project

01 July 2022
A project to improve security of electricity supply for residents on the Otago Peninsula has won Aurora Energy two national awards at the 2022 New Zealand Energy Excellence Awards this week.

From left: Aurora Energy Board Chair Steve Thompson and Chief Executive Dr Richard Fletcher; Aurora Energy team members with the two awards for ‘Network Initiative of the Year’ and ‘Community Initiative of the Year’.

The Harbour Crossing project received excellence awards in both the ‘Network Initiative of the Year’ and ‘Community Initiative of the Year’ categories.

Six old lattice towers and overhead lines between Port Chalmers and Portobello were removed last year and replaced with new submarine cables.

Aurora Energy Chief Executive Dr Richard Fletcher said the Harbour Crossing project was a true example of community collaboration, combined with innovative thinking for a new technical solution, and is a testament to how far our company has come over the past few years.

“It’s not often that an infrastructure project like this ticks all of the boxes by delivering positive environmental, community and business outcomes, and we were pleased our team of professionals and specialised contractors came up with a solution that not only improved security of electricity for residents but also has wider benefits for shipping, tourism and wildlife by making a clear passageway for our local birdlife and commercial vessels,” said Dr Fletcher.

“We worked in partnership with mana whenua, the Island Keeper on Quarantine Island/Kamau Taurua, Port Otago, University of Otago’s Marine Studies Centre, the Department of Conservation, Dunedin City Council, a resident in Port Chalmers who was very happy to have a tower removed from his garden, and the wider community when planning this project, and they all supported it,” he said.

“Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou were supportive of the ambitious project” says Nadia Wesley-Smith, Manager, Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou. “We note the benefits of decreasing risks for native wildlife, improved power connection for those living on the northern end of the peninsula and, particular for the hapū of Ōtākou, the project has offered an opportunity to work with the Kamau Taurua community and Aurora Energy in strengthening relationships between mana whenua and all stakeholders involved.”

Dr Fletcher said the easiest solution to upgrade this section of the electricity network would have been to replace the assets like for like, but engaging with the community helped us deliver the best engineering solution.

The award judges said they were impressed with the project’s incorporation of community feedback while also delivering on economic, technical and safety outcomes and unlocking tourism, commercial and environmental benefits for the broader Otago region. They said the project not only improved network reliability but also brought the community together to restore the Harbour’s pristine coastline to the benefit of everyone.

“We are excited to share these awards with the community because they were such an integral part of this unique project,” said Dr Fletcher. “While Harbour Crossing is a once in lifetime project what I’m pleased about is, we are taking the same community focused approach to everything we now do at Aurora Energy.

“We would like to congratulate and thank our contracting partners ElectroNet, Unison Contracting, SeaWorks and HeliOtago. We would also like to thank the Energy Excellence Awards and our award sponsors Eagle Technology and Worley, and congratulate all of the finalists in our categories and other winners on the evening.

More information about the awards is available here: New Zealand Energy Excellence Awards